Creative Obsession

Obsession, when speaking to the average person, brings up ideas of psychotic people – like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction, Mark Wahlberg in Fear, Patrick Bergin in Sleeping with the Enemy or Alicia Silverstone in The Crush.

Obsession – in relation to love – is never a healthy emotion.  It’s related to another unhealthy relationship trait, possessiveness.  Both of these emotions deny the humanity of the other person.  The other person becomes an object, one whose emotions and needs are not important to the person with the obsession or possessiveness.  Or at most, are less important than the person’s own emotions and needs.

But obsession isn’t always about pursuing someone who wants nothing to do with us.  In some ways, one of the few situations where an obsession can be a positive emotion is when an idea takes hold in the mind of a creative person.  It doesn’t matter what kind of creation the person uses to express the idea – it simply matters that the idea becomes something that must be expressed.

Writers have this – when you hear a writer talk about their characters “taking over the storyline” this obsession is part of what is going on.  It’s that the characters have taken root deeply in the writer’s psyche, and must be expressed in order to end the obsession for the writer.

Artists (designers, painters, sculptors, etc) can also have that kind of obsessive idea.  It’s where a certain visual MUST be expressed, and we will keep changing it until it becomes exactly what we’re trying to express.

I’ve got that going on right now.  I have a triptych idea going on that just won’t let me go.  But, the little details keep nagging at me.

You see, one of my favorite movements in art is the Art Nouveau period.  It takes the overdone flowery Victorian art, and is the stepping stone towards completely geometric art (which is Art Deco).

It’s not focused on realism like much of Victorian art, nor on pure geometry like Art Deco – it’s a celebration of the geometry found in Nature.

The most famous artist of this movement, and the most well known, is Alphonse Mucha, a Czech artist and designer.  While at the time, sadly, his work was not considered ‘worthy’ (partly because he did do some advertising and product design work – a man’s gotta eat, people!), his work does have a devoted following in more modern times.  Some of us aren’t as thrilled with the whole post-modern, deconstructive art movements, and would rather focus on the mathematical geometries of Nature.

For me, at least, it speaks to the modern information sensibility.  In my own lifetime, we’ve gone from a mostly “real world” focus to an “online” (or virtual) focus – encouraging more than 4-dimentional thinking.  Modern mathematics and physics, on the other hand, seem to be moving closer to a more organic view of the world.

Art Nouveau speaks to me of the entwined concepts of our world – technology and nature.  Finding the fractals in a flower, and the sweeping organics of the supernova.

And the more I study the works of the Art Nouveau movement, the more I find the underlying geometries, and the geometric exactness required for a natural view.

Like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, the more I try to focus on the sweep of a curve, the more geometrically perfect I find I need to make that sweep.

And the obsession won’t let me go.

But, I realized while working on the tryptich, it has a different purpose as well.  Writing code has it’s own strict organization, and it’s own geometric perfection.  And while I’m struggling with the recovery from the abuse, I have a need to rebuild my own foundation.  It’s that marriage of geometric perfection and organic wildness that will continue to help me rebuild myself.  If I only focus on geometric perfection, all I will build is a mechanistic worldview – limiting me to only the physical.  If I focus on the organic wildness alone, my mind and body have no connection to the real world to affect it.  It’s only with both working in sync that I will be able to become my whole self again.

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Categories: Creativity | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Creative Obsession

  1. I think creativity and mental illness can be interconnected – and you know why? Because most people with psychotic symptoms, including myself, have an ability (which is indeed the symptom of psychosis) to link unrelated things which can result in innovation. I am actually planning to do research about this field and write about it in my blog. I recommend you my latest post which deals with infatuation.

    • I’m not sure I would agree with your hypothesis. I don’t think it is limited to those with chemical or emotional psychosis. I know for a fact that there is a particular set of skills and/or talents that lead to having the ability to make connections where others may not see them. It’s not exactly the same set of skills and/or talents, but more a matter of having enough of a combination to allow for the leap of logic.

      And, sadly, there are far too many people – ill or not – who have the ability to make the leap of logic, but don’t have the associated skill to explain it well enough that those without the ability to make the leap can understand and support it.

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